New players will start out with a spacecraft and a small sum of Credits. They will be able to trade, pirate, bounty-hunt, explore, and salvage their way to wealth and fame.
Previous games in the series already had similar key game components, but Elite: Dangerous upgrades that with modern graphics. However, Elite: Dangerous also adds new features to the series, such as the concept of online multiplayer.
Elite: Dangerous takes place in the same universe as Frontier: Elite 2 and Frontier: First Encounters, 50 years after the events of FFE, in the year 3300AD. The Thargoid race, introduced in earlier games, will also appear.
Elite: Dangerous builds upon the foundations of the previous Elite titles, but aims to expand these ideas to a modern context.
Single player by default will mean playing alone, but within a shared and evolving universe. That means regular updates from central servers. However, Frontier Developments has promised that players will have the option to turn synchronisation off when creating a new commander. They won't be able to play with this commander with other players online though, and their universe will stay mostly static.
In multiplayer, players can choose how they will encounter other players. Encounters can be limited to private channels (only friends or invited people will be encountered), completely turned off or set to be able to encounter any player that also chose to want free encounters. With this option, the game will enable a highly customizable experience, where some players might only want to co-op with their friends, others prefer an open universe where they might run into anyone.
The game will work in a seamless, lobby-less way, with the ability to rendezvous with friends as the player chooses. This technology is already working, using a combination of peer-to-peer (to reduce lag) and server connections.
Depending on the player's chosen configuration, some of the other ships they meet as they travel around are real players as opposed to computer-controlled ships. It may be a friend the player has agreed to rendezvous with there, or it may be another real player that has been encountered by chance.
All players will be part of a “Pilot’s Federation” – that is how they are distinguished from non-players – allowing players to differentiate between who player and non-player easily. The radar also indicates other players, showing them as 'open' figure on the radar.
Evolving Universe Edit
Unlike previous games, the Elite: Dangerous universe will evolve. As players explore the galaxy, the different factions will be seen to spread to further star systems, colonising planets and building space stations.
New star ports will be slowly built in real time. These events will create opportunities for players as the resources and workers required for building will need to be transported and there will no doubt be related military missions and scope for increased piracy.
Procedural Content Edit
Procedural generation of content is a technique where content is generated from rules. It abstracts repetitive or arbitrary elements of content creation in a very efficient way.
Imagine a medieval landscape. Laying out towns, roads, castles, farm land, forests and so on can be done by a system of rules – putting castles widely spaced out on vantage points, towns near rivers but under the protection of such a castle, roads between them, then with farm land to support them all. An artist can still design the castle, the houses in the towns, but this approach greatly magnifies the content that can be created. “Frontier” did this for the star systems, and planets, and with Elite: Dangerous, Frontier Developments will go further.
Destructible Ship Models Edit
Larger ships will have multiple shield generators which can be targeted and will fail individually. This will add an extra level of skill where attackers can inflict hull damage by firing weapons at a single point and the prey navigates in a way that draws fire to working shields.
The operating shield radius on very large ships will also allow for very small fighters to be able to sneak under them and cause immediate damage to the hull.
Unlike previous Elite games where ships would simply explode once the hull integrity hit zero, the ship models will be divided in to sections so that damage will be localised to where weapon fire impacts. This means that, for example, the cargo hold can be exposed (shedding cargo) but thrusters, hyperdrives and weapons would not be affected.
Once a ship has been targeted, a subsystem can be specifically targeted, making it possible to attack specific modules to cause desired malfunctions. Frontier Developments have already hinted at future updates allowing for boarding of ships.
Player Roles Edit
Unlike RPGs, players in Elite Dangerous will not choose their role by customising their character. Instead, the choice and customisation of their ship will be geared towards specific role(s). Examples cited are Trader, Explorer, Bounty Hunter and Pirate. However hybrid roles or new roles may be possible through updates or emergent gameplay e.g. mining.
Frontier Developments have been positive about suggestions that players can have multiple ships so they are able to switch between roles. However, how this will be achieved has not been finalised.
Trading EditTrading in previous games was limited to a relatively small number of different commodities such as hydrogen fuel, precious metals, computers etc. Elite Dangerous will see the addition of an extra dimension to the various commodities traded. Depending on how far goods have travelled, a higher price will result.
Instead of static prices per star systems, stockmarkets will now respond to events going on in the vicinity such as war, famine, blockades etc. This creates the opportunity for players to "game" the stockmarkets by controlling supply and demand.
It won't just be commodities that can be traded. Game items can also be bought and sold, such as maps and permits. There will also be smuggling.
Piracy & Bounty Hunting Edit
Various combat events (e.g. performing tight turns, firing weapons) heat up the ship's hull, which will make the ship easier to be spotted on scanners, which in turn will make it easier for Pirates and Bounty Hunters to locate such ships. This means that players will be able to detect on-going battles and join in. David Braben has hinted at the ability for combatants to communicate with ships in the vicinity to "do deals". This may mean that the player may get a share of the profits if they save a trader from pirates or get a share in the loot if they don't mind getting a bounty on their head.
Mining & Gas Scooping Edit
Of course, mining and scooping will be important activities; providing the raw resources to keep civilisation going. However, little has been said about how they will differ, if at all, from previous games. Although mining would seem to be a very labour intensive activity, requiring much of a player's time, it hasn't been included as a career in its own right.
Previous games tried to obey the laws of physics to a certain extent. This meant conventional thrusters were limited by the laws of relativity i.e. players could not travel faster than light within a star system. Frontier: Elite II used the Stardreamer feature as a realism/gameplay trade-off. However, such a mechanism would not work in a multiplayer game, so Elite Dangerous will feature faster than light travel using hyperspace.
Landing On PlanetsEdit
Frontier Developments took the decision to implement landing on planets as a future update. This gives them more time to implement a significant feature in a manner that they're happy with. Players will still be able to skim the atmosphere to scoop gases. For an insight in to the rich experience planned for atmosphers, watch the procedural generation video above.
Ships will be customisable in a way that affects how the ship functions. They will feature hard points for weapons and thrusters, giving the player more control over how the ship behaves and what strengths and weaknesses it'll have.
Weapons will not always be immediately available. Weapons will need to be enabled in anticipation of using them. This allows for offensive / defensive stances and bluffing.
There is going to be a vast improvement in astrophysics. David Braben has confirmed the inclusion of new encounters with comets, black holes and quasars.
David Braben, in an interview with PCGamesN indicated that Elite: Dangerous will be set in a procedurally generated Milky Way with over 100 billion solar systems, including our own. In addition each system could have up to 100 objects, leading to plenty of opportunities for the player.
Features in the expansionsEdit
After release several features will be added to Elite: Dangerous. Some of these were available in previous editions of the game and some new to this one.